Mili in China

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Mili
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 31,000
World Population: 31,000
Primary Language: Mili
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Mili have never before appeared on Chinese ethnolinguistic lists, simply because they have been lumped together with the many names and subgroups that make up the official Yi nationality in China. The Mili have a long history of being oppressed by the Chinese.

The Mili are one of approximately 120 tribes and people groups that the Chinese government combined into the official Yi nationality in China. The Mili are acknowledged by all other people who live near them as a distinct ethnic group with their own history, customs, dress, and language. The Mili first appeared in John Kuhn's 1945 tribal survey of Yunnan Province, located in "Qingku." Qingku is the old spelling for today's Jinggu County in Simao Prefecture.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Mili culture, like their language, is well preserved. After the death of a Mili person, the sons and grandsons gather around the corpse and, "one-by-one, take turns blowing into the mouth of the deceased. They then each take a silver coin, a little rice, and some tea leaves and wrap them in a red cloth. Having done this, they then place their small, red parcels in the mouth of the deceased. The body stays this way, in the home, two or three days before the burial ceremony." For the Mili, this act is a way of honoring their dead before the soul leaves for the next world. They believe the rice and tea will nourish the soul of the deceased, while the coins will provide for any needs that may arise on its journey. Mili weddings are very relaxed. Once a couple decides they are ready for marriage, they choose a day to go farther into the mountains and chop firewood together.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Mili are polytheists and animists. They feel close to nature and are careful not to upset the spiritual balance they believe exists between themselves and their surroundings. Until the 1950s many Mili villages contained shamans.

For hundreds of years the Mili have lived and died without the slightest knowledge of the gospel or the name of Jesus Christ. Without a church or any Christian witness, the Mili remain neglected and in spiritual darkness. No missionaries are known to have ever reached out to the Mili people. The areas inhabited by the Mili are practically devoid of any Christian presence, be it Han Chinese house churches or government sanctioned believers. The Mili are isolated geographically, culturally, linguistically, and spiritually from outside influence.

What Are Their Needs?

Without the guidance of Christ, these people are like sheep without a shepherd. They need the good shepherd in their families and communities.

Prayer Points

Pray for the spiritual blindness and bondage to the evil one to be removed so they can understand and respond to Christ.

Pray for the Lord to provide for their physical and spiritual needs as a testimony of his power and love.

Pray that the Mili people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings.

Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them.

Text Source:   Joshua Project